With the United State economy posting record levels of employment no seen since the great recession began in 2008, politicians in Washington and Capitol Hill have been looking at the federal government’s spending and trying to roll back most of the increased spending that was approved to deal with the unprecedented recession that the country experienced. Naturally, the programs that got the most increase are the ones that are targeted the most. The two programs that were drastically increased were Food Stamps (SNAP Benefits) and Unemployment Benefits. Not only were these two programs increased in terms of spending but the rules were also relaxed to deal with how long it was taking people to return to the workforce or find a job and how much government they needed to survive until they got back to their feet. For example, the amount of time people could stay on unemployment got extended several times by congress because of how many people were without work and were struggling finding a job. Now that unemployment is close to 5% at the national level, with some states experiencing unemployment rates under 5%, congress is looking at rolling back some of those benefit extensions to save money and trip the federal budget.
Food stamps have also been impacted by this. In most states, legislatures are eager to show they are trimming spending, especially in this election year and one program that gets the most heat from politicians is food stamps. That’s because there is this perception out there that people on food stamps are trying to live off the government for free and therefore there should be cuts to get people to work. That’s even in the face of overwhelming evidence that these cuts negatively impact the most vulnerable people in society, including households with children. That has not stopped politicians from trying to use the program as some sort of scapegoat. One of the issues at stake is how the food stamp receiving population swelled tremendously during the great recession. That’s because work rules were relaxed so people who were able bodied were allowed to receive benefits due to the unprecedented nature of the recession. Now that there is work to be had, politicians are trying to kick able bodied people from receiving food stamps or cutting how long they could receive the benefits for. The question is whether people will go hungry that really need the help. For example there is a whole group of people whose jobs have left the country and there is no way of getting those jobs back. These people just don’t have the skills for today’s workforce. What will happen to them? They need job training and support while they acquire new skills for new careers. Kicking them off food stamps will literally cause the bottom to fall underneath them.